Monday, July 11, 2011

Secularism as the Enemy of the Word of God

We cannot deny the waning of the Catholic faith in many parts of the globe. The recent legalization of divorce in Catholic Malta is a recent proof of this claim. The world is rapidly sliding into secularism where the teachings of our Lord which once preserved social order is being discarded and rendered irrelevant.

Is it true that the word of God has lost the power which was referred to in the first reading? What stifles the word of God? The parable of the Sower gives us answers worth considering. “Some seed fell along the path...others on rocky ground…others fell amongst the thorns.” The seed is the word of God and the various kinds of soil upon which the seed fell stand for the different hearts of men. Of course, the word of God did not survive in the hearts of those who outrightly rejected it. But there are those who have accepted the word of God and yet, end up stifling that word they received. These are the ones represented by the rocky ground and the thorns. In the Gospel, the Lord mentions 2 factors that stifle the word of God: love for the things of the world and fear of suffering.

Basically, these two characterize the secular spirit of the world: worldliness and fear of suffering. We have a term for this – we simply call it the “good life.” This kind of life is one that mistakenly associates comfort with goodness and, on the opposite end, suffering (or inconvenience) with evil. Pleasure is something which we should pursue and discomfort should be avoided. Basically, this is the fear of the Cross. This mentality is all around us. Artificial contraception is attractive because it separates sexual pleasure from the responsibilities that go with it. Now, you can enjoy the sex without worrying about its consequences – parang Coke Zero: real coke taste without the calories. Divorce is very attractive because it separates the pleasures of marriage from the obligation of “till death do us part.” I once heard a DJ over the radio say that he is allergic to sacrifice. “Basta enjoy lang nang enjoy. Pag naging mahirap ang sitwasyon, talikuran mo.”

And this is dangerous because secularization shortens our vision and limits it to the horizons of the visible world. Secularization falsifies reality by limiting it to only what is visible and makes us oblivious of the greater part of reality which is the invisible world. By instilling in us too much love for the things of the world, secularization condemns us to the world that passes away. By instilling in us the fear of suffering, secularization deprives us of that one instrument by which man is truly saved by Christ – and that is the Cross. In our shortsightedness, we fail to appreciate the redemptive value of our sufferings when they are endured in union with Christ. “Our sufferings in the present are nothing as compared to the glory that is waiting to be revealed in us,” so said St. Paul to the Romans in the 2nd reading. Remember that our sufferings and sacrifices are good for us. On the human level, such create in us a sense of character. On the supernatural level, such prepare us for the glory of our revelation as children of God.

If we want the word of God to bear fruit in us, we have to engage in self denial as an antidote to worldliness. We have to face our fear of suffering and carry our Cross because only in such way can we follow Christ who conquered the world and makes all things new. St. Paul tells us that athletes deprive themselves of many things in order to win a crown of leaves. Let us do the same. Let us cast away everything that encumbers our steps. Let us run the race so as to receive from him the crown of victory.

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